Feed on

It’s been four months since I first stuck the Nike+iPod sensor to my Saucony shoe and posted the results to this site. Since that time a lot things have happened in the Nike+iPod world. Not only have other people come up with some pretty clever and practical shoe-hacking methods of their own, but several commercial products have been released which were designed specifically for attaching the Nike+iPod sensor to any pair of running shoes. With so many shiny new iPod nanos and Sport Kits being sold this holiday season, I figured it was time to compile a guide to the options available for non-Nike+ shoe owners.

Do-It-Yourself “Shoe Hacks”

As I discovered when the Nike+iPod Kit was first released, the small orange and white sensor doesn’t need to be placed inside the special Nike+ shoe compartment to work properly. In fact, it doesn’t need to be inside the shoe at all. The only requirements are that the sensor is logo-side up, relatively horizontal, and tightly secured to the shoe.

The Podophile Method

My original solution was to attach the sensor under my laces near the toe with some velcro. See the complete instructions here. This method provides a tight, secure spot for the sensor to live, while keeping it easily removable and doing practically no damage to the shoe. On the downside, if not checked regularly the sensor may become loose and fall off the shoe. In addition, the sensor, being on the outside of the shoe, is exposed to the elements (though this can easily be fixed by placing the sensor in a small plastic bag or balloon).

Insole Surgery

Several people have emulated the Nike+ shoe design by cutting a sensor-sized hole into the permanent insole of their shoe with a Dremel or Xacto knife, then placing the sensor inside, and covering with the shoe’s removable insole. This method has the benefit of keeping the sensor safe and secure, but requires major surgery with the risk of damaging your shoe. Thanks to David Goulet for posting the photos… He’s a braver man than I. Larger pics are here, here, here, and here.

Tongue Piercing

Another idea is to cut a small slit in the tongue of the shoe and place the sensor inside, sliding it down toward the toe. This method, like mine, secures the sensor under the laces and provides the added protection of the tongue fabric. But be careful that the sensor can’t slide around inside the tongue, as this will give you inaccurate readings. Also, with less padding between the sensor and your foot, you may actually feel the sensor, which could be uncomfortable.

Duct and Cover

Then there’s the old standby duct tape, which some have used to attach the sensor to their shoes. I think it’s probably best to make a pouch out of tape and then secure that to your laces, rather than just taping the sensor to your shoe, as moisture and the movement from running will loosen that tape pretty quickly. It’s not pretty, but it seems to work just fine. If you go this route make sure the sensor is tightly secured to the laces and doesn’t bounce around when you run.


The crafty blogger over at Yarn-A-Go-Go has posted instructions on knitting your own shoe pouch for the Nike+iPod Sport Kit sensor. It should be a pretty easy project for someone with basic knitting skills, and the finished product looks much better than most of the other popular “shoe hacks.”

The Sensor Cozy

My favorite DIY method comes from Web Goddess, who made a simple fabric tube, placed the sensor inside, threaded it under her shoe laces, folded the ends of the fabric over the top, and attached them with velcro. It’s really a great solution that provides protection and a snug fit for the sensor, is easily removable, and doesn’t damage the shoe. Of course, to make one of these you’re going to need some craft skills.

Commercial Products

Once it was shown that the Nike+iPod sensor could be used with any pair of running shoes, people who weren’t inclined to “hack” their shoes started looking for existing products which would attach the sensor to their shoe. And it wasn’t long before several new products, designed specifically the task, were announced. Here they are, in the order of least to most expensive:

Case Logic USB Shuttle ($4)

This finger-sized neoprene case was made to hold two USB flash drives, but it turns out that its just the right size for the Nike+iPod sensor. One end of the case slides down under your shoe laces, while the other folds over and attaches with velcro. It provides a snug ride for the sensor, and the velcro holds pretty well, though I’d be tempted to add a little extra if I used this every day.

LaceLid ($5)

LaceLid for Nike+iPodThe LaceLid a simple hard rubber “cap” which fits over the Nike+iPod sensor, and is attached to your shoe by running your laces through holes at the top and bottom. There are a couple of things to keep in mind: Because there’s only one lace hole on the top and bottom of the LaceLid, proper attachment does require you to lace your shoes differently than you may be used to. Also, the LaceLid is an open-topped cap rather than an enclosed case or pouch, so the sensor may not be completely protected from wet weather (though unless your feet are actually under water, it likely provides adequate protection). The LaceLid is a unique and affordable Nike+iPod shoe accessory.

The Shoe Pouch ($6)

Grantwood Technology designed this little neoprene pouch specifically for the Nike+iPod sensor. It attaches to your shoe by threading the laces through four loops on the corners of the pouch. This lacing method provides added security, but also makes the pouch more difficult to remove from your shoe than the velcro-based products. I’ve read some positive comments about people’s experiences with the Shoe Pouch, but keep in mind that the key to getting good results is making sure the pouch is tightly secured to your laces. All-in-all, the Shoe Pouch simple, no-frills solution at an attractive price point.

The Nike Running Shoe Wallet ($8)

This neoprene “wallet” was designed to carry a runner’s keys, cash, and any other small items you might need on the trail. It attaches to the shoe via a plastic clip that slides between the the tongue and the laces. It makes a nice pouch for the Nike+iPod sensor, but is quite roomy, allowing the sensor to move and bounce around while running. Since this will give you inaccurate results, you should stuff some tissue or paper towels into the pouch to help keep the sensor snug. It may require some experimentation to get it right. Another issue is that over time, the shoe wallet’s clip can become loose, which might lead to the wallet falling off of your shoe. I’ve posted a lacing method that will prevent this from happening. It should be noted that there are other brands of shoe wallets on the market, but because the differences between them are minor, I won’t list them all here.

SwitchEasy RunAway ($8)

By far the most unique Nike+iPod sensor adapter, the RunAway features a hard plastic compartment for the sensor and plastic clip that twists to lock onto your shoelaces. Other innovative features include built-in power button access, and a slot to store your Nike+iPod receiver when not in use. I’ve seen comments about the twist-lock coming undone while running, which would certainly affect accuracy, but I’m not sure if this is a common problem or not. The Switcheasy RunAway comes in six colors.

Marware SportSuit Sensor+ ($10)

This was the first product released specifically for the Nike+iPod sensor and uses velcro to attach the pouch to the outside of your shoe laces. Designed by Marware, one of the larger iPod accessory makers, the SportSuit Sensor+ is a very high-quality product, but I’ve read reports of people having difficulty attaching it to their laces tightly enough to prevent unwanted movement of the pouch. And as we know by now, a loose pouch or sensor will lead to inaccurate readings.

I’m always on the lookout for new and clever shoe hacks and sensor accessories. Post a comment below to let me know how you’ve attached the Nike+iPod sensor to your shoes.

You may also be interested in:

82 Responses to “Nike+iPod Shoe Hack and Sensor Accessory Round-Up”

  1. Steve Ochry says:

    I purchased both the SwitchEasy RunAway and the Lacelid. I like the concept of the RunAway – easy to clip on and easy take off, allows you access to the “sleep” button, and a nice carrier for the iPod adapter. However, the clip mechanism is not strong enough and every time I used it, I would look down to see it unhinged.

    The Lacelid is far more secure. Of course, removing the unit would require unlacing your entire shoe so I simply leave it attached at all times.

    To do over, I would have to recommend the Lacelid.

  2. Ehsan says:

    Hi all,

    I’m using the grantwood shoe pouch, and the simple design makes it soo reliable! I do 30 miles a week and it hasnt even slipped on my Nike Free 7.0′s (which dont come in + format coz it would screw up the idea of them mimicking barefoot running). My Asics Gel Nimbus’s also hold it well, so i guess it works with most types.

  3. [...] know there are many work-arounds to not have to buy the Nike shoes, but is there a way to connect the duberry-whatsit that normally goes into the Nano, into the 20gb [...]

  4. paul says:

    I bought the Nathan pocket that was made just for the nike+ sensor at a local running store for 5 bucks. it’s not the normal shoe pocket, but just the right size for the sensor. it also has a nice safety reflective stripe on it. it wasn’t dead on accurate when i tried it today but i realized i didn’t put it on my shoe correctly. it has a long velcro strap that can go through the laces. i just attached it to the top laces and it was moving quite a bit. i didn’t realize it was long enough to go through the bottom AND top laces. now it’s on very secure and doesn’t move at all. i’ll test it again later this week. i’m confident it should be more accurate since it’s not bouncing around.

  5. [...] solution came from Daniel Zilber’s Podophile.com where I discovered several methods to use my NikePlus system with non-Nike shoes. My hack-of-choice [...]

  6. Kurt says:

    I’ve used the Switcheasy RunAway for several months now. While I love the design, in practice, it doesn’t work very well. It swings open too easily and when the device is perpendicular with the direction of travel accuracy drops dramatically.

    I’ve tried it on both shoes and thought that when I switched it to my left shoe, that it would swing open to the right less frequently, but to no avail.

    I wanted it to work, but just can’t give it a thumbs up.

  7. [...] attach the sensor to your left shoe (and no, you don’t need the special shoes, there are plenty of other options), link the two items through the Nike+ iPod settings menu, and then start [...]

  8. Eric says:

    Just ordered 3 of the Grantwood shoe-pouches…I’ll let you know how they work. Thanks for the site, helped a lot!

  9. christine says:

    THANK YOU for this helpful site!

  10. flipland says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I love your blog. It’s been extremely useful and love the tips you have posted. I just bought the Nike + iPod Sports Kit, but can’t get it to work (here’s the problem — http://flipland2.blogspot.com/2007/12/running-nike-sensor-problems.html).

    Any ideas how I can sort this out?

  11. Natasha says:

    Thank you so much for putting out all of this information. I run in Asics and my husband got me the Nike+ for Christmas. So I went out and bought Nike shoes and my toes tingled and my right leg at the end of 10 miles started to tingle too. This will make my life a lot easier.

    Thanks again!!!

  12. [...] Here are a few good links to how it works, and methods for attaching the sensor to your shoe, if you don’t have one of the special Nike+ shoes. General FAQs Attaching to your shoe [...]

  13. Lori says:

    I would love to use the Nike + iPod with my standard video iPod, as I don’t have a Nano. Is there a workaround for this that you know of?

  14. James says:

    Hi all,
    Just thought you might like to know I have just bought a pair of Adistar Formotion trainers which have their own cut out in the sole, the cut out is not designed for the Nike+ sensor, BUT the Nike+ sensor fits perfectly – no mod required!! If anyone is interested I can post a picture.
    Cool runnings,

  15. Miranda says:

    Thank you very much for your sharing!! Your method can help me to save lots of money and more importantly I prefer to run on my Mizuno running shoes rather than Nike running shoes. Your method can greatly solved my puzzle. However, may I know what kind of glue did you use to stick the velcro onto the transmitter in order to make it stick strongly on it? Thanks million for your reply in advance.

  16. Dan S says:

    Thanks for all the tips. I absolutely love the nike gadget but HATE nike shoes. Are there any more uncomfortable shoes than Nike? I use New Balance.

  17. stevew_f says:

    Great article. My experiences:
    (1) Marware SportSuit Sensor+ I used this for about a year, on four different pairs of ASICS shoes (successively, not switching back & forth): GT-2100, Gel Nimbus 7, and two pairs of Gel Nimbus 9. I eventually learned that strapping it tightly to the laces that are pressed firmly against the shoe tongue (not closest to the toe, but a couple “lace rungs” upward) was most consistent. Seeing that I was getting consistent results, I used to calibrate it every few weeks in an effort to get it just right, and the time I finally got it down to 0.5% of a known course…. the sensor battery gave out.

    So I bought a repacement sensor (you can get those separately now, without the receiver. Also, Nike sell a wristband that replaces the receiver+nano component).

    (2) I also bought a pair of Nike+ shoes (which I thought I would never do, but hey, they fit, and they worked visibly on the analysis treadmill at a 3rd party shoe shop). I instantly discovered that the sensor audibly rattled inside its little well in the sole. WHAT?!?! So I’ve put a small strip of medical tape over it to hold it in place. I chose med tape for its resistance to moisture, but some other types of tape will probably work too. Now to calibrate, thoug I don’t see how it can beat the consistency I was getting with my well-attached Marware unit.

    (3) As for how the sensor actually determines your speed, I think it uses accelleration as the measure, not foot pressure.

    (4) Check out bluechippy’s Run Adjuster: http://www.bluechippy.co.uk/runadjusterweb/ It lets you do after-the-run calibration.


  18. Colin G says:

    I have had the £1 i-strap with a Sportband for 60 miles now and it works a treat. £1 plus £1p+p is so cheap and once you get it, you can see how simple it is. If my velcro gets worn, I will go to John Lewis and buy my own for pennies.
    Great product and so simple. I have calibrated twice on a known run and I now read within 0.1 of a mile on an 8 mile run.

  19. [...] need either Nike+ shoes or you’ll have to attach the sensor to another shoe, either by some do-it-yourself hackery or by buying one of several commercial [...]

  20. Pablo says:

    Does anyone tried to put the Nike+ sensor inside the cavity of Adidas Adifusion, those with the cavity for the Polar S3 footpod?

  21. dolphin5 says:

    i unstitched the tougne of my shoes and slipped the sensor in then stitched the tougne up again it have it nearer my toes and i find this has held it firmly in place for over 600km worth of running so far

  22. Katie says:

    I purchased the lace lid to wear with my asics and I have yet to have an accurate reading from my footpod. Any suggestions? I laced it through and recalibrated it, but it’s still not reading correctly.

  23. [...] little area in the shoe for the sensor.  If you don’t run in Nikes, no worries- there are a ton of hacks to get around this.  I bought this thing for $5 online, and everything works [...]

  24. B Brownlee says:

    Thanks so much for this blog! I have a holder for the sensor in my armband & it wasn’t working at all! In the middle of my run, I switched the sensor to my shoelace, but was paranoid about it falling out! I just ordered the Shoe Pouch & a new armband–so thanks!!!

  25. Mon says:

    I tried to duct tape the sensor to my Asic running shoes but i make sure to replace the tape everytime so I have a standby roll of duct tape.
    Since I used it to my different running shoes.

  26. Teressa says:

    Thanks for the great summary and for all the reviews that everyone posted. I’m just getting into running and I was disappointed that the Nike+ shoes I custom designed online were crap. I’m thankful that I can use the Nike+iPod with other shoes.

  27. Teressa says:

    I just got the Grantwood Shoe Pouch and their “Tuneband” armband. Tried them out for 4.2 miles and I think they work better than Nike’s intended configuration of a Nike+ shoe and Nike armband. When using the full Nike configuration, I couldn’t get feedback from pushing the center button on my Nano. And, it didn’t tell me all the markers, like the end of my run! I think that either the shoe or the armband, or both, were causing the sensor and Nano to not connect/communicate well. With the Grantwood products the Nano attachment is not hidden by the armband and the sensor is on the top of the shoe. It worked much better, giving me all the expected communication and any on-demand stats when I push the Nano’s center button. The Grantwood Shoe Pouch and Armband are only $20 together (less than the $30 Nike armband alone) and they give you the freedome of using the running shoe that works best for you. Highly recommended.

  28. I cut the slit into the bottom front of the tongue of my New Balance runners and the sensor fit snugly inside. Work perfect and isn’t going anywhere. I feel like all these accessories are sort of gimmicks. Be more industrious. Your money is better spent elsewhere.

  29. Mike says:

    Will the nike+ work if you are biking? I am planning on doing more biking than running and would like to know that this will still work.

  30. Podophile says:

    @Mike: Nope, Nike+iPod doesn’t work if you’re biking.

  31. Whitney says:

    I have the Nike+Itouch (it already had the Nike+ on the ITouch) and I tried to go for a 7 mile run last weekend. The sensor only caught .42 of my 7 miles. I use a Nathan’s pocked. Can anyone describle in detail how you are supposed to secure the pocket to your shoe laces? I really want this to work!

    Thanks :)